Finding the Right “Hypoallergenic” Skin Care Products

By staff

It’s a daunting task for those with skin allergies to find the proper skincare. For some people, it’s just a minor redness or skin irritation that comes from using the wrong products, for others a reaction can be more severe and lead to hives, sores, or eczema, which open the door to even more serious skin conditions. So how do you know the best skin care for your type of skin? Labels tout all kinds of claims; it’s important to know the phrases, what they mean, and regulations behind them.

While shopping in the cosmetics, skincare, or lotion world, you will come across a plethora of different products with different uses for different skin and hair types. There are shelves of body lotions, shampoos, sun protection, make up, facial care…what’s the right one for you? The one your best friend loves may eat your skin up and leave you looking like you spent the night in a bed of poison ivy. Some of it’s trial and error, a lot of it is knowledge.

For instance, we feel safe when we see the word “hypoallergenic.” But that doesn’t mean no allergies; it simply means: may cause less allergic reactions than a similar product that is not hypoallergenic. The FDA has no regulations over this type of labeling, so a manufacturer can make all the claims it wants. Yes, there usually are less harsh ingredients in these products, but that doesn’t mean they won’t affect you. If you have an allergy to say, lanolin or almond oil, check carefully. These are often in the “gentle” brands, but can definitely cause a reaction.

The same is true for “natural” products. “Natural” means that the ingredients haven’t been chemically processed; they are in a pure state. Again, however, no FDA regulations. Also, if there is an allergen in the product, like almond oil or shea butter, it can still cause a reaction, natural or not. “Sensitive skin” products fall into this range as well. While they may be a better choice for some consumers with skin sensitivities and allergies, they won’t work for everyone.

Of course, ingredients should always be checked. If you see your allergen listed, stay away, regardless of “hypoallergenic” or “natural” claims.  Remember, too, that certain allergens can go by different names, so familiarize yourself with those as well. If you can’t figure out why your skin is so susceptible to reactions with certain products, a wise rule of thumb to go by is to choose the products with the purest and least amount of ingredients (as long as your allergen is not included).

Be a smart consumer, talk to your allergist or dermatologist and inform yourself. Make sure you educate yourself on terminology and ingredients as well. If you are having trouble finding the right products locally, there are some websites like www.achooallergy.com and www.allergymatters.com that sell products for allergy sufferers. But again, be sure it’s the right product specifically for you.

- Heather Legg

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